Military Permanent Change of Station PCS Overview

Soldiers return from a 11 month long deployment in Kosovo.
Soldiers return fom a 11 month long deployment in Kosovo. (Robert Mercado/U.S. Army)

A big part of being in the military is being mobile. That means changing duty stations. When you get permanent change of station (PCS) orders, you should know what transportation allowances you are eligible for.

A PCS move can be a move between one duty station and another or between your final duty station and home of record upon retirement or discharge. There are many types of PCS orders, each with their own special rules and regulations. Some of these include: accompanied or unaccompanied PCS overseas, PCS to same geographic area, change of a ship's homeport or unit's location, PCS with temporary duty en route, etc.

We will cover the basic allowances you can expect to see in most situations to help you understand what you can expect when you receive PCS orders.

The government will pay most costs associated with your move. If there are any costs not reimbursed, you may be able to claim them on your taxes. You can receive many of these travel allowances before the move, or you may be issued a travel card to help keep you from paying the high cost of moving out of pocket.

The most common government-paid travel allowances include:

Personal and Dependent Travel

The government will provide you and your dependents transportation from one duty station to another. It will either transport you via government airplane or vehicle, issue you a ticket for a common carrier (air, rail, etc.), or provide you money to travel via your privately owned vehicle (POV).

You are also authorized per diem payments for every day you are traveling. Per diem pays a set amount for meals and lodging, for the number of authorized travel days between locations.

Details about personal and dependent travel pay

Household Goods and Vehicle Shipment

You can ship your personal belongings from one duty station to another. The government authorizes you a weight limit based on your rank and family status. You can usually either have movers pack and transport your belongings or do it yourself. You may also be authorized to ship or store your personal vehicle depending on where your orders are to.

Details on household goods and vehicle shipment

Dislocation Allowance

Dislocation allowance is designed to partially reimburse you for expenses you have due to relocating. This includes things such as utility deposits, consumables, etc. This tax-free allowance varies by rank and family status.

Details on dislocation allowance

Temporary Lodging Reimbursements

The government will partially reimburse you for the additional costs you may face when house hunting or living in temporary quarters in conjunction with a move through either Temporary Lodging Allowance or Temporary Lodging Expense reimbursements.

Details on temporary lodging reimbursements

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Travel PCS